Archive for November, 2009

25
Nov
09

Trust and Tolerance

Someone told me that she just realized that I really do not trust people – I merely tolerate them. Hmmm…I never thought of that. I mean, I do trust people albeit only up to a certain safe extent. Like in lending money, for instance. If someone close to me asks for a loan, I make sure that the amount I lend is not more than what I am prepared to cover in case payment is delayed or defaulted.

And for this I was accused of not trusting but merely tolerating the anticipated worst-case scenario.

I remember this risk management seminar I took more than a decade ago. It taught us that risk has two dimensions: probability and magnitude. So in a four-quadrant matrix, risks are roughly classified as low-probability/low-magnitude (there’s a 5% chance that you’ll lose P5,000), high-probability/low-magnitude (there’s a 95% chance that you’ll lose P5,000), low-probability/high-magnitude (there’s a 5% chance that you’ll lose P100,000), and high-probability/high magnitude (there’s a 95% chance that you’ll lose P100,000).

I’d say I’m a risk taker even if the probability of losing is high for as long as the magnitude is low. But once a lot is at stake, I tend to play it safe, no matter how ‘safe’ they say the odds are.

In a certain company, the president explained the importance of credit security. The example he gave was about one sales executive who authorized the sale of goods worth a substantial amount without credit security because of the mutual trust he enjoys with the customer. The president said, “Okay, this customer is very trustworthy in terms of his ability and willingness to pay, and I take that. But what if he suddenly dies of a stroke, and the one who takes over the business is not as reliable?”

I guess we can only trust another person’s intentions, because if we try to consider the possible circumstances beyond that person’s control, e.g., a sudden stroke, we realize that we will be taking risks. However, if the calculated risks are deemed manageable and not unnecessary, it is never unwise to take them.

Perhaps I have unconsciously applied this business principle to my personal life. I do trust people, but only up to their intentions. If I foresee certain significant risks that were not explicitly considered by the person to whom I would be giving my trust, I back out. Unfortunately, sometimes people take it personally.

But some people do have the right to take it personally, especially the one I consider as my life partner, my ‘soulmate’. To hesitate when I think there might be risks unforeseen by the person demanding my trust could mean I don’t trust her judgment. I do trust her intentions; maybe just not her judgment. And in a way, that could mean I don’t trust her at all.

This may be a hard reality for me. But if it’s any consolation, I never totally trust anyone’s judgment – not even my own. I just tolerate and try to manage the calculated risks.

And so to the person who said that I don’t really trust her but merely tolerate her, let me say it this way: I trust you to the point that I can sleep soundly with you by my side with a loaded gun in your hand. Now there’s a risk that you’d have a nightmare of being attacked and so you’d shoot the ‘attacker’ – me, or out of simple clumsiness you’d accidentally fire the gun pointed in my direction. But while the magnitude of the risk is too high, the probability is very much lower than you leaving because you think I don’t trust you. Besides, the magnitude of the risk of losing you isn’t too far from the magnitude of the other risk involving a loaded gun in your hand. inner minds

06
Nov
09

Time and Life Part Two: Slipping Through My Fingers

In Part One we took an impersonal approach on time and life so this time we’ll try to add a little emotion. I’ll do my best not to sound too cheesy though, just enough that the guys would suffer through it while making the ladies smile. Okay, here it goes.

A few days ago I heard the song Slipping Through My Fingers by Abba. Now I’m not going to talk about the movie Mamma Mia lest the guys start packing but rather about the lines from the song and how they relate to time and life.

Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while

Ah, a mother watches her young daughter leave for school every morning and gets a bittersweet pinch in the chest each time.

The feeling that I’m losing her forever
And without really entering her world
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter
That funny little girl

I guess sooner or later we will lose everything forever, every single thing dear to us. With this we should be grateful for every shared blessing and cherish it as much as we can even if we cannot really enter our loved one’s world.

Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute
The feeling in it

Nostalgic as this may already seem, how sad it would be if these experiences never happened at all, or if one is unable to connect with her own daughter:

Do I really see what’s in her mind
Each time I think I’m close to knowing
She keeps on growing
Slipping through my fingers all the time

But do we really need to see what’s in a loved one’s mind? To you freethinkers out there, did you love your parents less when you became ‘enlightened’ and you started to think of them as less enlightened than you? Of course you’d love them more if they opened their minds, but just because they didn’t when you did doesn’t mean you loved them less.

Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table
Barely awake, I let precious time go by
Then when she’s gone there’s that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I can’t deny

Hmmm…breakfast is a wonderful time for bonding but unfortunately both mother and daughter still have their minds dozing in dreamland, and it is only when one has left that the other realizes what was just permanently lost.

What happened to the wonderful adventures
The places I had planned for us to go
Well, some of that we did but most we didn’t
And why I just don’t know

Ah, the could have beens. It is often said that regrets on the things we did can be healed by time, but regrets on the things we did not do will haunt us forever. Mark Twain said something similar to that.

At this point the chorus about trying to capture every minute is repeated. Surely there will be moments really worth capturing – by engraving them in vivid memory or by literally taking a picture – to preserve and immortalize them, as the song’s last lines suggest:

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture
And save it from the funny tricks of time

Ah, time. It does things to us, to life. Life is at the mercy of time. And while life is personal and always longing for itself, time is neutral and unforgiving. However, life is also a cycle of birth and death, and linear time is needed to keep this cycle going.

With the psychological arrow of time we remember the past but not the future. And with this time has a given us a very generous gift: memories. And although life cannot survive the funny tricks of time, our memories often do.

inner minds





Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues

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